One of the toughest challenges facing employers today is how to discipline employees.  Following these steps serve as an informal test employers can use to see if the discipline they are imposing is appropriate.

1. Notice:  Did the employer forewarn the employee in a handbook?

Prestige requires all employees to sign an acknowledgement form upon receipt of the handbook.  If you do not have a handbook, contact your HR Specialist immediately.

2. Reasonableness:  Was the rule reasonably related to the orderly, efficient and safe operation of the business?

Keep in mind that what is reasonable depends on the nature of the business and the transgression.  Contact Human Resources if you need further guidance.

3. Investigation:  Before administering discipline, did the employer make an effort to discover whether the employee did, in fact, violate or disobey a rule?

You must prove the investigation conducted was fair, complete, and done before imposing a decision.  Prestige recommends we conduct investigations on your behalf.

4. Fair and objective:  Was the investigation conducted fairly and objectively?

Can you prove you considered all the facts?

5. Proof:  Did the employer obtain sufficient evidence that the employee was guilty as charged?

Obviously, direct and irrefutable evidence is the best proof.  However, circumstantial evidence also works.

6. Equal treatment:  Has the employer applied its rules, orders and penalties evenhandedly and without discrimination?

This is the nondiscrimination test.  However, if an employee is entitled to reasonable accommodation the employer must make a careful, proactive examination of the job requirements and the employee’s needs.  Prestige can provide guidance concerning what is considered “reasonable accommodation”.

7. Appropriate penalty:  Was the degree of discipline reasonably related to the seriousness of offense and the employee’s record?

In other words, does the penalty fit the crime?


If you have questions concerning this, or any other Human Resource issues,

contact Prestige Employee Administrators, Inc.

The following blog appeared in the January 24, 2012 edition of The NY Report (…

In 2010, the powers that be in Albany passed the New York State Wage Theft Prevention Act, requiring employers to notify new employees hired after Oct. 26, 2009, in writing of their: (1) regular pay rate and, if applicable, rate of overtime pay; and (2) regular pay date.  Beginning April 9, 2011, however, the act required this written notice to be provided both at the time of hire and to all existing employees between January 1 and February 1 of each subsequent year.

Exactly who does this law benefit?

It certainly does not benefit business owners, who face stiff penalties for wage, notice and recordkeeping violations.

In addition to the six-page Frequently Asked Questions, Guidelines and Instructions, this notice must be provided to all employees in English and the language identified by the employee as his or her primary language (the form is readily available in Chinese, Korean and Spanish).

But wait, there’s more…

There are actually seven different forms, depending on whether each employee is paid an Hourly Rate; Multiple Hourly Rates; a Weekly Rate or Salary for a Fixed Number of Hours (40 or fewer in a week); a Salary for Varying Hours, Day Rate, Piece Rate, Flat Rate or Other Non-Hourly Pay; for Prevailing Rate and Other Jobs and; finally, for Exempt Employees.

These stringent new requirements for all New York employers stipulate that they must obtain a signed and dated written acknowledgment from the employee confirming receipt that contains an affirmation by the employee that he or she accurately identified his or her primary language and received the notice in that language. The acknowledgment must be maintained by the employer for six years.

Simple (and not so simple) Math

According to the most recent US Census Bureau data, there are more than 7.3 million people employed in New York State.  That means that more than 51 million pages of paper are needed to comply with this law.  That is more than 600 trees.  Then there are the man-hours to process these forms, postage, and storage (physical and/or electronic) costs.

But if you act now…

It isn’t too late to do something about this.  On behalf of allNew YorkStateemployers, we urge you to contact your State Senators and ask them to consider repealing, or at least modifying, the New York State Wage Theft Prevention Act.  And, if you are totally confused as to how to be compliant with the law, contact Prestige Employee Administrators, your outsourced Human Resources company, who can help you.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. changed the general way of thinking that dominated society by speaking against the hateful practice of racial discrimination.  He motivated millions to stand up against the social mores that allowed the mistreating of an entire segment of the population.  It is fair to say that our country would not be where we are today were it not for what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did in the fight for basic human rights.

However, there is still enormous inequality in theUnited Statesand throughout the world.  There is still inequality among races and, more and more, there is inequality in wealth and living standards.   Now is the time to merge Dr. King’s Dream and the American Dream into a single Dream of a better future — one of optimism, success and respect for everyone.

The holiday season is behind us and so it’s back to work once again.  The summer seems so far away and it is easy for employees to feel a bit down in the dumps.  One of a manager’s most important jobs is to keep spirits up in the workplace.  With stress levels in Corporate America at an all-time high, this isn’t always easy to do.  However, there are some strategies you can use that will get the job done – without hurting your budget.

* Sponsor a “Noon Movie.”  Once a week (depending on employee schedules), set up a DVD player in the breakroom and show a funny movie during lunch.  If time is limited, show reruns of “The Office” or other situation comedies.

* Set up a “Humor Corner.”  Designate one section of the office as the place for humor, and encourage employees to post cartoons, jokes, or other funny material.

* Get out of the office!  Whenever possible, hold meetings outside the office – at the coffee shop down the street or at a local restaurant.  If weather permits, don’t be afraid to hold meetings outside from time to time.

* Liven up your memos.  By a book of one-liners, and include a joke at the bottom of your memos.

* Run a “Guess the Baby” contest.  Ask the staff to bring in baby photos and post them on a wall.  Award a free lunch to the employee who can guess who’s who.

* Have “Late Day Mondays.”  If possible, once a month allow your employees to arrive an hour late on a Monday morning – or leave an hour early on a Friday.

* Take pictures!  Every office has an aspiring photographer.  Ask that person to take candid shots of employees, and add them to the “Humor Corner.”

* Play with the dress code.  If your culture allows it, hold an “Ugly Tie,” “Ugly Pants,” or “Ugly Sweater” day.  Award prizes for the “winners.”

* Bring your smile to work.  You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.  If the manager consistently has an upbeat attitude, the staff will as well.

Year end.  For many this signals annual reviews, raises and promotions.  One of the primary reasons that businesses struggle is due to ineffective management, and most businesses do a poor job of promoting the right people into management and supervisory positions.

The most common reason businesses promote an employee into management is length of service, believing that someone who is loyal to the organization should be rewarded by being moved into a management role.  While longevity should be considered in the decision to promote, simply rewarding long-term employees by promoting them into positions for which they are not well-suited is unfair to the employee, their co-workers or the company.

Some employees are promoted because they do an excellent job in their current positions.  However, many employees that are effective in their current positions fail miserably as managers and supervisors.

Another reason people are often promoted is because they are well-liked.  Too many owners and managers promote people because they like the person and want to reward the individual for being a team player.  While it is an admirable characteristic, it is not a reason to promote someone.

It only makes sense to promote from within when an employee has the ability to manage effectively.  Throw out all of your personal biases about employees.  They should be expected to interview with senior management and it should be determined if they have the behavioral tendencies to handle various management situations.  Test the employee to determine the degree to which they match the profile of a manager or supervisor.

Promoting a staff member prematurely can cause no end of problems – for you, for your organization, and especially for the employee.  Ask yourself these questions before making a decision…

Is the employee:

Performing present duties well enough to justify a promotion?

Experienced and qualified to do at least part of the new job?

Willing to hand over current responsibilities to a new person?

Enthusiastic about taking on a new role?

Familiar with the new position’s responsibilities and priorities?

Proficient in the interpersonal skills necessary to work with others in a new role?

Adequately trained, or willing to be?

Prepared to bow out gracefully if the promotion doesn’t work out as planned?

The more questions you can answer Yes to, the better the chances for the promotion to succeed.  Thoroughly investigate and resolve any No answers, however, before making any changes.

Most decisions to promote are made too quickly and without sound rationale.  Recognize that some employees may be passed over for promotions simply because they are not qualified to manage.  Do not make the decision out of fear that they may leave the company.  It is far better to have an employee leave than to attempt to fill a role for which they are qualified and, if handled properly, an employee passed over for a promotion will often stay with the company.

‘Tis the season for holiday parties.  Good food, good music, Secret Santa, and the potential for employee misbehavior if alcohol is served.  Certainly, the absence of alcohol at a party would likely solve that problem, but many employers still want to make cocktails available to partygoers.  Afterall, one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.  Or does it?  If you plan to serve alcohol at this year’s party, you may want to employ the following strategies:

* Timing is everything.  Choose to have alcohol available either pre-dinner or during dinner only.  If you decide to have the bar open during the entire party, make sure it closes at least one hour before the party ends.

* There’s more to the party than just drinking.  Promote the other aspects of the party, such as the menu and entertainment.  Give employees something else they can look forward to, such as the food and dancing, rather than the liquor selection.

* Choose the menu wisely.  Serve only beer and wine, not hard liquor, and limit the amount of salty, greasy, or sweet foods because they tend to increase thirst.

* Invite families, clients and/or vendors.  The presence of employees’ family members or other work-related colleagues should encourage employees to be on their best behavior.

Even with these precautions in place, there is still the chance that employees may get out of hand with their behavior or be too impaired to drive.  Here’s how to prevent those situations from happening:

* Designate managers to monitor employees’ behavior.  They should look out for: how much employees drink and whether they have a safe ride home; employee interactions, especially those who become “too friendly” with each other or if tempers rise; any other employee activities that may be dangerous to themselves and others.

* Cover all transportation bases.  Ask employees to designate a driver ahead of time or carpool with each other, or arrange for a taxi or car service for employees.  Just be mindful not to make employees feel like that is a requirement.

Prepare for the possibility of pre-partying. It’s safe to assume that some employees will start the party on their own before they arrive to the actual party, so to minimize that possibility:

* Let employees know that those who arrive drunk will not be admitted to the party.  Pre-designate a driver (e.g., an employee-volunteer or a taxi) to take the intoxicated employee home.

* Arrange for free transportation from your company’s site to the party site and back, so employees don’t have an opportunity to hit happy hour beforehand.

* Remind employees about your company’s Code of Conduct, which will be enforced at the party, by circulating e-mails and memos a few days before the party.  This is much more effective than trying to explain it to an employee who is already drunk.

Prestige wishes all of you a happy and safe holiday season!

As Congress heads into its final week, the PEO industry is making a strong push on Capitol Hill to have S 1908 (The Small Business Efficiency Act) included in a larger tax bill.  Passage of S. 1908 would help more small businesses free up resources in order to create more jobs.  Specifically, this bill will:

  • Improve tax compliance with federal tax law
  • Grant legal status with the IRS for PEOs
  • Create a voluntary certification process within the IRS for PEOs and a safe harbor for those small businesses that use certifed PEOs; and
  • Provide needed certainty for small business, allowing that sector to better focus on growth and job creation.

On behalf of the PEO industry, we urge you to contact your State Senators and ask them to support S.1908.

As a PEO (Professional Employer Organization) we are experts in providing Human Resources support, employment services and outstanding benefit programs to small and medium sized businesses. By combining the purchasing power of many smaller companies, Prestige can often deliver expertise at little or no incremental cost to you and your company and we’ll prove it with a FREE no obligation analysis and cost comparison. Contact us today! (more…)